As a company that exclusively makes bearings, we have a lot of conversations and answer a lot of emails about bearings. One thing we’ve noticed is that people often talk about or ask about “ceramic bearings” when what they are actually referring to are “ceramic hybrid bearings.”
It may seem like we’re nitpicking here, but there is quite an important distinction between ceramic bearings and ceramic hybrid bearings. Ceramic bearings (or full ceramic bearings, as some people call them) are made completely of ceramic material—typically silicon nitride. Ceramic hybrid bearings, on the other hand, have only ceramic balls, while the inner and outer rings are made from steel.
Specialty Uses for Full Ceramic Bearings
Full ceramic bearings have their applications, but they are very specific. In other words, not many motors need full ceramic bearings. They are typically used in environments where harsh chemicals are present or in extremely high or low temperatures, when a bearing that is completely non-corrosive and non-conductive is necessary. Full ceramic bearings are also non-magnetic since there is no metal present in them, which allows them to be used in certain medical devices, like MRI machines. They are extremely lightweight and require little to no lubrication.
The downside of full ceramic bearings is that they are quite expensive. They also don’t tolerate shock loads well, due to the brittleness of the ceramic rings. In the vast majority of cases, a full ceramic bearing is not necessary, and therefore not worth the added cost.
The Many Uses of Ceramic Hybrid Bearings
Ceramic hybrid bearings are a much more popular choice, especially for those operating equipment with industrial electric motors. They are also beneficial in performance applications like kart and motorcycle racing to improve both speed and horsepower.
The combination of steel inner and outer rings and ceramic balls allow them to be used at high speeds and under high loads (unlike full ceramic bearings). They are electrically non-conductive, long lasting, and require only minimal lubrication. Overall, they are highly superior to traditional steel bearings, which is why many industrial equipment operators and mechanics are making the switch from steel bearings to ceramic hybrid bearings.
At CBR, we specialize in ceramic hybrid bearings. With their many benefits and their broad range of applications, they are a great option for a wide range of customers.
Those wanting to make the switch have two options: they can purchase new ceramic hybrid bearings or they can have their current steel bearings converted to ceramic hybrid bearings. Our team of bearing experts can make the conversion right here in our California-based bearing lab. Contact us for a quote and for an estimate on current turnaround times for bearing conversion.
For new bearings, contact us to place an order. We have many sizes in stock and ready to ship out same day. For bearings we don’t currently have on our shelves, we offer short turnaround times. We also offer competitive pricing on all our bearings and sell directly to the consumer.